Aria stood still. She didn’t dare move. The rough edges of the frayed rope were digging into her wrists adding unnecessary injury to insult. The wooden skid lopped side to side, threatening to throw her overboard should she compromise her meticulous balance for even a fraction of a moment. She swallowed her tears, unable to think beyond the sound of the tantalizing drums filling her ears and predicting her demise. As she slipped further and further into the night, the drums faded into the distance. She looked into the boat to realize she was now alone. Just her, the rope, and sway of the cool dark water.
A splash drew her attention to the left side of the boat. A mangled and sullen girl was heaving herself into the boat, knocking Aria to the floor in her wake. Aria screamed, ripping and tearing at the ropes to get herself upright again.
I have to get back up! Get up, Aria! Now!
She scurried once again to her feet, staring at her new companion with both anger and fear. Everything was unpredictable now. Her hands were tied and this girl could throw everything off balance. When she caught her breath and the canoe rediscovered it’s equilibrium, she stole a closer glance at this young girl. She was too skinny, covered in dirt, and her body was swollen in strange places. Her eyes were downcast as if mourning. Or maybe atoning? Those eyes moved slowly and cautiously upward until they met Aria’s
“Sara…” She breathed.
She was hardly able to contain the shock and emotion surging through her body. She could only stare. This was not the Sara she remembered. She watched as Sara convulsed at her recognition, then carefully began moving towards the front of the skid. Aria continued her molesting gaze, too captivated by the sight of her dead friend to consider the dangerous rocking motions the boat was receiving.
As she neared the front, Sara pulled a small hammer from her pocket. Aria tensed.
Keeping her eyes locked on Sara’s, and unable to spurr her body to move, she watched Sara raise the hammer high above her head. Breaking Aria’s gaze for just one second, she thrust it down hard into the middle of the boat, emitting a deafening and eerie screeching sound from the depths of her gut. The entire lake seemed to quake. Aria held her own, eyes darting back and forth and around in an attempt to anticipate her next defensive reflex. Sara was still staring at her.
And then there was the crack. The crack grew ever so slowly, beginning where Sara’s hammer had impacted the splintering wood, and continuing long-ways across the boat. Aria watched in horror as the canoe split in two, carrying Sara and her left leg one direction, and her right leg another.
“Jump,” Sara implored, her voice suddenly soft and tranquil against the surging yells emanating from Aria’s thoughts.
The two sides of the boat continued to depart from each other, leaving Aria in a panic. She couldn’t choose. She couldn’t move. Her heart was racing, urging her to stay with Sara, screaming for her make a decision. Her body could contain the tension no more and, cemented in two worlds, she released her inner anger with a piercing scream. Finally her foot moved. She elevated both arms in preparation to jump.
She flung her arms desperately towards the ceiling, her eyes shooting open at the sound of her own scream. Her legs were shaking under the soft sheets, her body covered in sweat, her head still pounding from the pungent deep and guttural drums.
When she finally came to, she began to cry. Deep, painful tears soared down her cheeks, aching and longing suffocating each droplet as they disappeared into the mattress.
“Aria!” Her mother cried upon entering the room. She ran hastily to her side, pulling her close and cradling her head in the crook of her neck.
“Shhhhhh…” her mother soothed.
“It was Sara,” Aria whispered. “She’s here.”
Aria couldn’t see the alarm in her mother’s face.